Over the past 50 years, medical research has advanced greatly, uncovering a growing number of ways that the use of tobacco hasbeen responsible for a range of medical conditions.
In 2001, a law was enacted that restricted the sale and availability of tobacco and tobacco-related products within the EU with the hopes of reducing the pervasiveness of diseases related to smoking.
The EU law, known as the Tobacco Product Directive was, at that point, relatively unobtrusive for the majority of the public and so failed to attract much attention within the media. In the days since the law was enacted, however, there emerged a new device that propelled the idea of smoking cessation back into the limelight, and that was the e-cigarette.
While the majority of level-headed individuals believe that any safe, easy-to-use, inexpensive device that helps encourage a smoker to stop buying traditional cigarettes should be encouraged, a number of high-ranking politicians believed that e-cigarettes should also be controlled under the 2001 law.
In 2014, the law itself was amended to include e-cigarettes, and all member states had to adhere to its standards. Of course, many nations chose to add further guidelines alongside the law as it was implemented within their own borders, and in the UK, this revised law become known as the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations (TRPR).
There was, obviously, a backlash against its guidelines from the vaping community as many began to ponder the reasons behind the inclusion of e-cigarettes within its mandate. Unfortunately, these calls were ignored and the TRPR/TPD law was brought into force on May 20th 2017.
So, how does the TPD law affect the average consumer?
For the average vaper in the UK, the enactment of the TPD law only made a few small changes to their e-cigarette use. The key points are as follows:
- E-liquid bottles should be no more than 10ml. Prior to the TPD, bottles up to 60ml were available for purchase, meaning that repeated purchases in the short-term were less necessary. It also meant that the amount of waste packaging was reduced greatly. As of May 20th 2017, a vaper can still purchase large amounts of e-liquid, but only in multiples of 10ml when the liquid includes nicotine
- Tank capacity must be no more than 2ml. Before the TPD law came into force, tanks were allowed to be much larger, reducing the need to refill anywhere near as often. The thought process behind this decision was to prevent the intake of large amounts of nicotine by users, despite the fact that one would need to inhale almost a litre of e-liquid in a relatively short space of time for the substance itself to be considered dangerous.
- E-liquid must have a maximum strength of 20ml of nicotine per litre. While the rationale behind this decision was fair, issues arose for those who wished to quit smoking, but were used to smoking traditional cigarettes with an extremely high nicotine content, so the new content-restricted e-liquid did little to reduce their cravings.
- Warning labels must be used on all packaging. While not directly affecting the user, this move did little to help ex-smokers feel good about making the switch to a much less harmful alternative to traditional cigarettes.
Has the TPD law had any other effects?
While many of the amendments to the law have done little to affect those new to vaping today, the changes in the TPD law towards manufacturers were much more restrictive and favoured larger companies with the financial clout to use these new guidelines to their advantage. These changes involved the following:
- Manufacturers must provide a six-month notification for new vaping products. While this may seem to be a fair idea – helping to ensure that safety procedures were being followed – it effectively prevented many smaller companies from staying in business as they were unable to profit from their newly released products until they had been certified.
- Manufacturers would have to pay fees to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). These fees, for smaller companies at least, would feel more than a little extortionate, as for every new product they released, a fee of £150 would be needed. So, if a company released 20 new e-liquids, they would face a bill of £3000, and any amendments to these liquids would cost a further £80 each time. Considering that many companies carry around 100 different flavours/styles of e-liquid, it is easy to see why the TPD law was extremely unpopular among less established manufacturers.
- Manufacturers would face marketing restrictions. Despite the fact that e-cigarettes are safer than their tobacco-based predecessors, producers would not be allowed to market them via television, radio, online (including social media), or through product placement.
It has been over a year since the TPD law was enacted, and despite many of the initial fears felt by the vaping community, the use of e-cigarettes has continued to grow thanks to their promotion by health professionals across the country as an effective smoking cessation device.